Work begins on new Construction and Engineering Centre for Barnfield College

Construction work has started on the £38.8m four-storey, high-tech Construction and Engineering Centre at Barnfield College, in Luton.

It is the second phase of the New Bedford Road development. allowing construction and engineering courses to move from the Enterprise Way campus. All students will now be on the same campus. The new building will give students access to the latest equipment and technologies, allowing them to develop the skills needed both now and in the future.

Having worked with the college to deliver a vocational teaching facility during the first phase, Equals are now providing project management and Employer’s Agent service on the new Construction and Engineering centre.

Cath Gunn, principal of Barnfield College, said: “We are delighted that works have commenced on this state-of-the-art Construction and Engineering Centre on our New Bedford Road site. The construction and engineering industries are some of the largest and fastest growing employment sectors in the UK and it is vital that local people are able to maximise the employment opportunities available.”

British Land’s Amphitheatre in Sheldon Square completes

Situated on British Land’s Paddington Central campus in west London, the new Amphitheatre in Sheldon Square has been recently completed and is now open to the public.

The space has been reimagined to create a new, vibrant external space for work teams, families and friends to enjoy, and to provide a focal point for the community.

Working for British Land, Equals provided pre and post contract cost management services on the project with the works being procured on a design and build basis.

The works include new hard landscaping to the top and bottom walkways surrounding the amphitheatre, along with new retail frontage, with the amphitheatre remodelled to provide a more organic seating arrangement including a water feature, performance space, improved accessibility and inclusivity for all. The project has been developed with a focus on sustainability, using Earth Friendly Concrete to significantly reduce embodied carbon.

Equals worked closely with the client design team of Gillespie’s, Davies Maguire and Feix & Merlin with the works being delivered by 8build.

Equals appointed on Hexagon Theatre redevelopment

We’re excited to have secured the PM and QS role working with Haworth Tompkins to revitalise Reading’s much-loved Hexagon Theatre.

The ambitious £13.7 million project will see the creation of an attractive, flexible and exciting new space for performances and community use.

The plan at the Hexagon Theatre is to extend to the right-hand side of the existing building with an new entrance to offer much-improved accessibility and a new multi-function community space. The space will provide for a wider variety of performances and uses. This will form the first phase of a longer-term regeneration of the 1970s-built Hexagon.

The theatre development is part of an ambitious and wider plan to create the ‘Minster Quarter’. The Minster Quarter plan will include building hundreds of new homes in a significant area of the town centre, creating a vibrant thriving new community at the heart of the town.

Work experience at Equals

This week we have hosted two Year 10 work experience students from Langdon Academy in Newham. The girls have been involved in client and design team meetings, site visits as well as tasks to give them a flavour of what working on projects is like.

We have been very impressed with their enthusiasm and diligence, together with a youthful clarity of vision – especially around some of the ingrained challenges (‘It takes HOW long to get planning permission? People need somewhere to live NOW.’). We think it’s important to give young people visibility of roles and opportunities in the construction industry.

New Creative Arts Centre at Charterhouse School starts on site

It’s great to see site works commencing this week for the new build Creative Arts Centre at Charterhouse School. This is the second phase of work, having already completed the enabling phase and refurbishment of the design and technology building. The third phase, due to start in Q2 2024, will create a link to the new building and includes the refurbishment of the existing art studio, along with new principal entrance works.

The historic school has commissioned the building as part of a wider masterplan. Designed by Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt, the building will expand arts and design technology teaching and deliver additional exhibition space. With growing pupil numbers, the school aims to create a modern, adaptable space to meet the changing needs of the curriculum, students and staff.

Equals is providing project and cost management on the project.

Addressing the UK’s Cladding Crisis – 2023 update

In February 2021, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government announced that the Building Safety Fund (BSF) would receive a further £3.5bn to the existing £1.6bn allocation. While this was a positive move to address the UK’s Cladding Crisis, some critics cited this as being too little too late and falling well short of the estimated £15bn required to replace combustible cladding. Equals facade remediation team assesses some of the issues and practical solutions for the successful delivery of façade remediation projects.


The challenge

The Grenfell tragedy exposed fundamental fire and life safety issues for residential developments clad in combustible materials. The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities called for repairing ‘all serious fire safety defects’ in high-risk residential buildings at up to £15bn, identifying some 2,000 residential buildings still clad in combustible cladding.

From the outset the requirements were to ‘ensure all buildings of any height’ with aluminium composite material (ACM) be fully remediated of all fire safety defects by December 2021 and with all other high-risk buildings above 18m remediated by June 2022. This presented a significant but vital challenge for our industry to overcome.


The Building Safety fund

The impact to homeowners in high-risk buildings has been great, with many leaseholders bearing the financial burden of extensive preventative measures such as fire alarms and waking watches, along with soaring insurance costs. This has resulted in many facing bills in the tens of thousands, unable to sell or lease their properties and some even suffering bankruptcy.

The BSF was established to support tenants, residents and leaseholders with financial assistance and project delivery expertise to remediate combustible cladding where building owners are unable to.


Introduction of PAS 9980

Following on-going remediation under the BSF guidance, in 2021 the Fire Safety Act introduced the Fire Risk Appraisal of External Wall (FRAEW) construction under the PAS 9980 guidance to take a more holistic, risk based approach to building fire safety. This also reduced the funding parameters, relieving the financial burden on leaseholders and provided two routes to building remediation, with the PAS 9980 running concurrently with the EWS1 form under the BSF guidance.

With the new guidance in place, consultants and contractors who have worked on projects under the BSF guidance are generally well placed to assist on projects under the PAS 9980 guidance. As the application process is similar there is a benefit to using consultants who have an existing understanding of the funding process.


The Developer Pledge

In April 2022, the government confirmed it had reached a wide-ranging agreement with a number of Housing Developers, which is estimated to have contributed £2 billion to address the fire safety of buildings over 11m.


Building Safety Act & notifiable buildings

The new legislation requires all parties involved to take greater responsibility when designing, constructing and refurbishing buildings. The Building Safety Act now creates new statutory duty holders, who are responsible for managing fire safety risks and ensuring compliance with Building Regulations. The 1st October 2023 deadline to register all higher risk buildings with the regulator is approaching and the UK Government has released a more detailed list of the Key Building Information that will be required to be provided.


‘Wedding Cake’ at Waddesdon Manor opens

Owned by the Rothschild family, the sprawling 600 acre Waddesdon Estate is near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. We have been helping the estate with various cost management services and have assisted them with this ambitious new commission. Wedding Cake – a 12-metre-high sculptural pavilion in the form of a three-tiered wedding cake, clad entirely in ceramic tiles – is a major new work by celebrated Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos. The pavilion is open to the public in mid-June and will be on display until October this year.

Almost five years in the making, Wedding Cake was commissioned by the Rothschild Foundation for Waddesdon, prompted by the relationship between visionary collector Lord Rothschild and Vasconcelos. Part sculpture, part architectural garden folly, Wedding Cake is an extraordinary, enormous, fully immersive sculpture which combines pâtisserie and architecture. It offers an intricate and richly sensory experience – glazed in pale pinks, greens and blues, beset with sculptural ornament and complete with the sounds of trickling water and a site-specific lighting scheme. Wedding Cake is Vasconcelos’ most ambitious commission to date, described by the artist as “a temple to love” that celebrates festivity and marriage.

Equals have provided cost management on the project, helping the client with the contract documents and delivered post-contract cost management services on this unique project through to completion.

Milestone reached in Latymer Foundation’s plans for new sports facilities

Equals have been assisting the Latymer Foundation in its plans to develop new sporting facilities at the Quintin Hogg Memorial Sports Grounds. The Latymer Foundation is a charity which runs the Latymer Upper and Prep Schools based in Hammersmith, one of the leading co-educational schools in the country.

For over 20 years pupils from Latymer have been using the facilities at the Quintin Hogg Memorial Sports Ground at Chiswick. This month, Latymer took over the leasehold for the 31 acre site from The University of Westminster. This lease agreement is the realisation of a long-term strategic objective to secure additional playing fields to deliver curricular and co-curricular sport.

In taking on the leasehold, Latymer aim to upgrade, improve and enhance the facilities for the benefit not just their own students but the other users of the site and the local community, now and for many years to come.

The proposals include delivery of new cricket, football, and rugby pitches, refurbished changing facilities, and bringing a disused Grade II listed stand back into use.

Equals are providing project and cost management as well as employer’s agent services on the project. Since becoming involved, we have assisted the school in developing the strategic brief and programme, procuring the project team, managing the design process, and cost planning.

Equals Tender Price Inflation Report (London) – Q1 2023

The latest issue of our inflation report is now available to view.

View the full report here.

  • Inflation associated with the cost of materials shows signs of easing, but the lack of skilled labour remains a concern.
  • Insolvencies continue to increase in the industry, with a further high anticipated in 2023.
  • Threat of a recession is receding; however, construction output stagnated in December, with 0.0% growth, followed by a 1.7% contraction of growth in January 2023.
  • Tender Price Inflation forecasts anticipate a slowing of the inflation rate compared to 2022.



BAFTA wins RIBA London regional award

Equals were part of the team that delivered the complex refurbishment of BAFTA by Benedetti Architects. It’s fantastic news that the project has won a RIBA London regional award, the twelfth award this project has won so far!

Well done to the team involved, including Alan Baxter, Price & Myers, Harley Haddow, LAPD Lighting Design, DP9 Limited, Jackson Coles, Sandy Brown, Charcoalblue and Knight Harwood.

Click here for more information on the project…